Ukraine: Parliament Boss Takes Presidential Powers

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - A top Ukrainian opposition figure is assuming presidential powers.

The parliament, in a special session Sunday, voted overwhelmingly to temporarily hand the president's powers to speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, a top ally of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (YOOL'-yah tee-moh-SHEN'-koh)

The move plunges a divided Ukraine into new uncertainty after a deadly political standoff and boosts long-jailed Tymoshenko's chances at a return to power.

The whereabouts and legitimacy of President Viktor Yanukovych (yah-noo-KOH'-vich) are unclear after he left the capital for his support base in eastern Ukraine. He maintains that parliament's decisions in recent days are illegal, and a top presidential aide says he will continue to fulfill his presidential duties.

The newly emboldened parliament, now dominated by the opposition, struggled Sunday to work out who is in charge of the country and its ailing economy. Fears percolated that some regions might try to break away, after three months of political crisis that has left scores of people dead.

Ukraine is deeply divided between eastern regions that are largely pro-Russian and western areas that widely detest Yanukovych and long for closer ties with the European Union.